The month of April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in the United States. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. By working together and pooling our resources during the month of April, churches and communities can highlight sexual violence as a major public health, human rights and social justice issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts. Learn more on the SAAM website.
April is also National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States. The National Child Abuse Prevention Website discusses multiple protective factors—or conditions in families and communities—that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families. Protective factors are attributes that serve as buffers, helping parents who might otherwise be at risk of abusing their children to find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress. Research has shown that these protective factors are linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect. Protective factors include:
- Nurturing and attachment
- Knowledge of parenting and child development
- Parental resilience
- Social connections
- Concrete support for parents
- Social and emotional competence for children
For a faith-centered approach to Child Abuse Prevention Month, Dove's Nest provides resources to help faith communities protect children and youth in their homes, churches, and communities during child abuse prevention month. Check out their resources on the Dove's Nest webpage devoted to Child Abuse Prevention month resources, including bulletin inserts, fact sheets, and Power Points that might work for you at your church.
Spring is a wonderful time to promote the Circle of Grace curriculum at your church. Circle of Grace fits well into any faith formation program or curriculum with an emphasis on God’s presence and desire for a relationship with us. The program, which can be used alongside other curriculum, will help children and youth in Grades K-12:
- respect themselves and others
- learn to identify healthy relational boundaries
- know what to do if any boundary is threatened or violated
The Circle of Grace program is comprehensive and includes training materials for teachers and information for parents. "It’s tried, evaluated, and proven, and it helps children and youth take an active role in building a safe environment for themselves and others," says Bonnie Nicholas, Director of Safe Church Ministry for the CRC.